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Meta-analysis shows phytosterol-fortified foods effectively lower LDL levels of cholesterol

A high global mortality rate is related to heart problems (CVD), particularly atherothrombotic ischaemic stroke and coronary heart disease. Subsequently, it’s obligatory to cut back cardiovascular events by implementing cost-effective interventions. Several studies have indicated that reducing the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is crucial to stopping atherosclerotic CVD. Besides lipid-lowering drugs, consumption of phytosterols (PS) exhibited a lowering of cholesterol absorption.

Study: Use of phytosterol-fortified foods to enhance LDL levels of cholesterol: a scientific review and meta-analysis. Image Credit: marilyn barbone / Shutterstock


Many lipid-lowering drugs are commercially available (e.g., statins, PCSK9 inhibitors, ezetimibe, resins, and bempedoic acid) and have proved to be effective in lowering LDL-C and stopping CVD events. In point of fact, several aspects, reminiscent of unintended effects and private reasons, pose barriers to optimally controlling dyslipidemia in lots of patients. In these cases, specific foods and nutraceuticals may very well be used to lower levels of cholesterol.

Within the last 20 years, PS intake has increased considerably and led to a discount in intestinal cholesterol absorption. This, in turn, has led to lowers LDL-C levels. A meta-analysis that included 84 clinical trials revealed a discount in LDL-C with the consumption of around 2 grams of PS per day. One other study revealed that the LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect continues with roughly 3 grams per day of PS.

There’s a necessity for more meta-analysis to grasp the aspects related to the lipid-lowering effect of PS. This might help elucidate the variability in LDL-C reduction documented in previous studies. Among the possible aspects may very well be PS dosage, treatment duration, the form of food wherein PS is incorporated, and the pattern of PS intake. Additionally it is vital to grasp the effect when PS is run coupled with statins. There’s a dearth of knowledge regarding the advantages of PS consumption in cardiovascular health.

In regards to the Study

In a recent study within the journal  Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseasesresearchers conducted a meta-analysis to raised understand the effect of PS-fortified foods in lowering blood LDL-C concentrations. This meta-analysis also determined how various factors linked to PS administration influence LDL-C reduction.

Relevant data were obtained from databases, reminiscent of MEDLINE, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), EMBASE, and the Web of Science, as much as March 2023. This study included randomized clinical trials (RCT) with a placebo group and a bunch of adults treated with PS. The PS included each plant sterol and plant stanols, which were ingested as fortified foods and never as capsules or pills. It is crucial to notice that the present meta-analysis excluded all animal or non-human-based studies. It didn’t consider any studies with out a placebo group.

Study Findings

The present meta-analysis updated all evidence on the advantages of PS in lowering LDL-C concentration. It also identified the aspects that might be altered to diminish LDL-C levels with PS intervention. A complete of 125 studies fulfilled all eligibility criteria and were considered in the current meta-analysis. A discount in LDL-C levels by a median of 0.35 mmol/L was obtained by the intake of two.15 grams of PS per day. One other meta-analysis of placebo-RCTs demonstrated the next PS dose decreased LDL-C levels by 0.41 mmol/L. Optimal reduction in LDL-C levels was observed at doses above 2.5 grams of PS per day. Similarly, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology has also really useful the consumption of upper than 2 gram a day of PS for LDL-C reduction.

Generally, individuals residing in Northern Europe and Mediterranean countries exhibited a dietary intake of plant sterols of around 250 mg/day and 500 mg/day, respectively. No hostile effects were observed when greater than 2 grams of PS was consumed in a day. In contrast, a maximum reduction of LDL-C levels was found when 2.5 g/day and even 3 g/day of PS was consumed.

A major impact on LDL-C levels was observed based on the form of PS-fortified food. As an example, individuals subjected to bread, cereals, and biscuits revealed a significantly smaller decrease in LDL-C levels in comparison with those that consumed butter, margarine, and spreads. This finding was consistent with one other study which showed PS incorporated in mayonnaise and fat spread was in a position to reduce LDL-C levels to a greater extent in comparison with PS incorporated in bread, biscuits, and cereals. It’s because the quantity of PS in bread is around 1.81 g/day, lower than the really useful dose. 

Interestingly, in comparison with liquids, solid-fortified foods exhibited a greater reduction in LDL-C levels. Within the context of PS treatment duration, it was observed that after 4 weeks of PS intervention, the lowering of LDL-C levels became stable for as much as greater than three months. No significant difference within the LDL-C levels was observed when PS-fortified food was consumed as a single intake in comparison with consuming it thrice per day.


The study has several limitations, including its small sample size and inclusion of studies that exhibited short-term effects. Despite the constraints, this meta-analysis provided updated evidence on the helpful effect of PS-fortified foods on LDL-C reduction. It also provided information in regards to the optimal PS dosage and food format, which could enable a discount within the LDL-C level.

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